Yesterday I shared that I’d stopped blogging these last couple of months because I didn’t think I had anything worth sharing. I also mentioned, rather vaguely, that I stopped blogging for a lot of reasons. Well, the “a lot” is quite subjective.
As mentioned before, I don’t use this blog to express my views about what is happening in this big, complicated world that we human beings frequently claim as ours—or theirs. But NOT blogging about these topics doesn’t mean that I don’t watch and read a LOT of World News. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t hold opinions, and, well, let’s just call them unsolicited suggestions.
Seems I’ve felt this summer (like most other news-watching humans) mostly startled; the chaos of bad news left me with a sense that I was hanging on for dear life, in a world that wasn't making any sense.
But this blog is not about those wonderings, even though "those wonderings" have greatly occupied my mind this summer, and the minds of most common sense folks.
Common sense isn’t about being a part of any political, religious or social justice group. Common sense (I think) is what my hard-farming grandmothers had a great deal of—with very little “book learning” to confuse the innate common sense that most hard-working folk tend to sprout.
And so I’ve spent this summer in a silent, pained watchfulness. I’ve tried very hard to MOSTLY keeping my mouth shut.
I also told myself, when starting this blog, that I would not use it as a soapbox to fuss or whine about the inconveniences of what I’ll call my life’s challenges. Don’t get me wrong—I love reading blogs that share a certain amount of the bad with the good; that share the occasional bumps in the road. Those stories bring me companionship; understanding; and frequently wise counsel to help me avoid the same pot holes.
But when I lump my two self-imposed constraints on what NOT to blog (with this blog), I think you’ll understand why I haven’t had much to say this summer. But today, I thought I’d share a bit about my last two months of RV search. Perhaps sharing just a bit will help me move forward and away from where I’ve kept my head all summer.
Let me start my story by stating the obvious. You’ve got to really want an RV to spend ANY time on a Texas-August day, looking at the rows and rows of RVs lining the concrete landscapes of dealership lots, so sadly baking in the sun. But put a bulls eye on a Houston map, go out some hundred miles in any direction, and I’ve probably visited most of the RV dealerships on that path.
With hat; long jeans (I don’t wear shorts if I’m going to crawl around and under an RV to make sure that I understand its systems); sunscreen and multiple water bottles. I’ve had a dismal summer of looking for an RV.
(Remember, I’d already attempted two purchases, from two different dealerships, of two different NEW rigs. After months of waiting, each arrived at the dealership with the kind of damage that caused the sales manager to give me back my deposit. Each experience was a nightmare.)
But let me get specific: based on my year-long search, and the general treatment I’ve received, including these last two months, I don’t think women are taken seriously by most RV dealerships. Perhaps I’m again simply stating the obvious.
One example: I spent multiple hours at a dealership with one salesman. He allowed me to drive two different rigs on side roads and an interstate highway. He was surprised and impressed by my driving skills. But I had arrived with questions; specific questions based on my pre-visit research. He did not have the answers. I knew more about the rig’s systems than he. That’s OK, I guess, but I wanted to know the answers to my questions.
I asked that this likeable salesman call the manufacturer with my questions. And I was so interested that I did what I NEVER do: I gave him my cell number. I watched him write it down. He got the numbers correct. Guess what? I never heard back from him.
Second example: I picked a rain-free August day to drive an hour and a half to a fancy, mega-dealership. I’d called a specific salesperson the day before, after researching the dealership’s web site that mapped salespeople to different product specialties. I scheduled a time to meet him. I left him my phone number.
I drove the hour and a half, and guess what? That "expert" salesman was doing something else and so, without calling me, he decided to put me in the “capable hands” of a new salesman. A very new, very young, salesman--that knew NOTHING about RVs.
Now this fancy mega-dealership had a large, covered portico. I asked capable-hands if he could drive the rigs underneath the covered portico so that I, he and the rig could at least be in the shade. He said he’d have to ask the sales manager.
Well, the manager’s desk was where I could see it. I watched capable-hands talk to the manager; I watched the manager look at me; and with no revealing expression on his face, I watched him say something back to capable-hands. The answer? No. I’d have to look at the rig where it was. Yes, I was feeling quite respected as a serious customer. But not to worry. Capable-hands said he’d fire up the generator and start the air conditioner.
Well, any experienced RVer knows how long it takes to cool down a baking-in-the-sun RV. AND, you’re going to love this: capable-hands couldn’t figure out how to start the generator. I looked around that oven-of-an-RV for five minutes. And then I left; and drove an hour-and-a-half, back home.
These are but two of MANY stories I could share. By the end of August I was ready to give up. But everything about my life; my choices for retirement; my not engaging in service work or community work post-retirement; ALL were choices with one focus: to begin this phase of life where RVing was THE lifestyle—not the vacation of choice. A year later, I sit in my stick house.
And so the end of August found me pretty close to despair. I tried to think of other future paths—perhaps a cabin-in-the-woods or a bay-side cottage. But migrating is in my blood.
I convinced myself to start anew and make one last phone call. I told myself that this phone call would be it. If the treatment was the same—I wouldn’t even mention the word RV again for a year.
I made the call. What happened may fall into the category of a modern-day miracle. We’ll see. For that story doesn’t have an ending until this third ordered RV arrives next month. And so, as mentioned yesterday, I'll say no more until the arrival process finds me driving away in a quality RV.
But that two-hour first phone call, to another dealership, found me speaking with the General Manager—not just a sales manager—and not just a salesperson.
That two hour phone conversation was followed by a next day's extended phone conversation, again with the General Manager, with supporting e-mail information. For the first time in a year, all of my questions were answered. For the first time in a year, I was treated as a respected, competent, experienced customer. The result? A third rig is now ordered.
And now—I’m waiting with a wee bit of hope. And yes I’m still listening to a lot of horrific world and national news. But I’m also going out and doing a bit of birding.
And it is the bird watching that reminds me to work harder to model the Aves lifestyle. The feathered-ones seem to innately live each one day, the best they can, with what Mother Nature created them to do.
And sometimes that best is about being still; and looking forward.